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James Armistead Lafayette

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  • Ross Armstead (1821 - 1883)
    Ross Armstead is known to be a descendant of James Armistead Lafayette, but it's not know how he is related. James Armistead Lafayette married and raised a large family after obtaining his freedom. L...
  • William Armistead of "Hesse" (c.1740 - 1782)
    HESSE In a remote situation upon the Pianketank, a stream that separates the counties of Gloucester and Middlesex, stands, solitary and alone, Hesse, one of the most venerable brick mansions in Virgi...
  • James Lafayette (1760 - 1830)
    James Armistead was a slave owned by William Armistead of Virginia. His date of birth is usually given as 1760, but may have been 1748. During the American Revolutionary War, James received permission ...
  • Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold, V (1741 - 1801)
    Benedict Arnold V (January 14, 1741 – June 14, 1801) was a general during the American Revolutionary War. He began the war in the Continental Army but later defected to the British Army. While...
  • General Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis (1738 - 1805)
    Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis KG (31 December 1738 – 5 October 1805), styled Viscount Brome between 1753 and 1762 and known as The Earl Cornwallis between 1762 and 1792, was a Br...

(James Lafayette)ARMISTEAD patriot of the American Revolution Born: Birthplace:


Spy, revolutionary. Born into slavery to owner William Armistead around December 10, 1748, in New Kent, Virginia. In 1781, James Armistead volunteered to join the U.S. Army in order to fight for the American Revolution. His master granted him permission to join the revolutionary cause, and the American Continental Army stationed Armistead to serve under the Marquis de Lafayette, the commander of allied French forces.


Lafayette employed Armistead as a spy, with the hopes of gathering intelligence in regards to enemy movements. Posing as a runaway slave hired by the British to spy on the Americans, Armistead successfully infiltrated British General Charles Cornwallis' headquarters. He later returned north with turncoat soldier Benedict Arnold, and learned further details of British operations without being detected. Able to travel freely between both British and American camps, Armistead could easily relay information to Lafayette about British plans.


Using the details of Armistead's reports, Lafayette and General George Washington were able to prevent the British from sending 10,000 reinforcements to Yorktown, Virginia. The American and French blockade surprised British forces and crippled their military. As a result of the Lafayette and Washington's victory in Yorktown, the British officially surrendered on Oct. 19, 1781.


Despite his critical actions, Armistead returned to William Armistead after the war to continue his life as a slave. He was not eligible for emancipation under the Act of 1783 for slave-soldiers, because he was considered a slave-spy, and had to petition the Virginia legislature for his emancipation. The Marquis de Lafayette assisted him by writing a recommendation for his freedom, which was granted in 1787. In gratitude, Armistead adopted Lafayette's surname.


After receiving his freedom, he moved nine miles south of New Kent, bought 40 acres of land, and began farming. He later married, raised a large family, and was granted a $40 annual pension by the Virginia legislature for his services during the American Revolution. He lived as a farmer in Virignia until his death on August 9, 1830

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Ross Armstead b1821- d1883

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